Choosing a Forever Home

March 4, 2009

A big part of our job is to achieve permanency for our kids – which is especially important as I am in a “little kids” unit.  In recent years, there have been laws passed which has mandated that kids have a permanent plan in place within a certain time frame.  So this means that there is a big clock that starts ticking with parents and they need to get there stuff together before the time is up or I have petition for the parents’ rights to be terminated.

I have an 18 month year old whose mom has not been getting her stuff together and while he has been in a very good foster home, they are not willing or able to care for him for the next 16.5 years of his life.  So because I am going to have to have a petition filed to terminate the mom’s rights, I need to get this little guy into a home that can be permanent for him.

About 2 weeks ago, I contacted the placement desk asking for foster-to-adopt homes interested in an 18 month year old boy that may be a good fit.  I was flooded with home studies of lots of great families that are looking for and wanting to have a kid just like him join their family.  So somehow, I read all of the home studies and narrowed it down to my top choices that I thought would be a good fit for him.  I spoke to their social workers and gave them more information (including some scaring off by the amount of legal risk involved with this case).  This, and other reasons, narrowed down the choices to three.  My supervisor and I met with all three of the families so that we got a better sense of them and they got a better sense of this kid.

And now we have to choose a family.  This is ridiculously hard.  All three of the families are fantastic.  They are loving, stable, understand the risks and challenges ahead, and would be wonderful for this child.  And all really would love to have him.  And somehow, I am have to pick one.  There are differences between the families – kids vs no kids, etc – which I think makes them different not better or worse.  I can easily make the argument for why this child would be better off as the only child in the home (at least for awhile) vs. it would be great for him to have a sibling in the home.  Yet, a choice has to be made and I am wanting to make it sooner or later.  I know wherever he goes, he will do great, but that, unfortunately, is not making this process any easier for me.

Advertisements

“Blue” is Back

February 8, 2009

The first case I worked on when starting this job was with Blue.  She is a mom with mental health (personality disorders) issues and three kids.  I was not the social worker for the case, I just started out helping out with visits, etc.  Well, my coworker that had the case transferred and because I knew the case the best, I inherited the case.  The other worker had the oldest child move with his dad out of state and the middle child live with father in town.  So I have stepped in as we have been trying to figure out permanency for the youngest (now 18 months).

We had been trying with great effort to figure out if this little guy could live with relatives.  There were some great logistical issues we were contending with adn just when it seemed that we had figured out a plan, the father backed out and stated that he (and his family) would be unable to take him.

We (me, the CASA, my supervisor, previous workers, and the courts) do not see Blue as a viable option for this little guy, so I am now charged with finding him a home.  At the end of the week and this weekend, I have been reading home studies of families that are interested in fostering, then adopting kids.  A home study is a lengthy document written by a social worker that makes sure that a family is suitable to foster or adopt kids.  I am reading about 20 that have been sent to me in search of one that I think will be a good match.  I am currently narrowing it down and then will ask for some assistance from my coworkers to pick a family.

How crazy is that?!?  I am making huge life-changing decisions for a number of people here.  I am taking comfort in knowing that this kid will probably do well in whatever home he goes to.  But it still is a little strange and I don’t know if it will really sink in until I meet with some families or transition him to his new home.

And then, of course, is Blue.  In court on Tuesday, it will become official that we are changing the permanent plan to adoption.  And I will need to make a referral to my attorney’s office file a petition to terminate her rights (dad is willing to relinquish).  I imagine that she will be very upset and will fight the termination very hard.  I am not looking for a lengthy trial.


Gay Parents

August 14, 2008

I found a great site recently – Hulu.com – which brings you legit, full episodes of television and movies with minimal commercials. It is a bit dangerous as it definitely encourages some hard-core procrastination. But it also provides access to some really quality content.

An example is an episode of 30 Days on same sex parents. For those of you remember the brilliant documentary Supersize Me, this is creator Morgan Spurlock‘s television show takes that concept and fits it into an hour. It takes pretty open-minded, yet passionate and dedicated people and has them live the lifestyle that is the complete opposite of what they believe in or are used to, such as a gun control advocate living in a house where guns are a big part of their daily life, and a great episode where Spurlock and his girlfriend attempt to live solely on minimum wage jobs.

In this episode, a woman who passionately believes that kids need a mother and a father as parents and that gays should not be parents lives with a gay couple and their 4 adopted sons for 30 days. And for me, and this woman, the most powerful part of her experience is when she goes and speaks with kids who have aged out of the foster care system. The kids talk about how awful it was to live in group homes because there are not enough foster homes for kids, arguing that prohibiting gay people from fostering and adopting children is harming kids. And it appeared that having this mom live with this family showed her that these parents were just like most other parents – loving, dedicated, and raising wonderful children, although she still clung to the idea that, in theory, she still opposes gays parenting.

It is extremely frustrating to me that people still have these perceptions on professional and personal levels. Professionally, it has become quite clear to me quite quickly, that we desperately need foster parents and the fact that many places (luckily not in my state) deny people from caring for needy children based on who they love is absolutely ridiculous. Not only are gays just as capable to parent as straight people, but we are also in a crisis and desperately need as many qualified people as we can get (it is interesting to me to note how this also seems similar to gays in the military).

On a personal level, as a gay person, I find it extremely offensive that people automatically discount me as someone who can parent based on who I am attracted to. And I know, that even though I live in a fairly welcoming area, that I am still at risk at being accused of false allegations and people protesting against my parenting children. I feel that I am even at risk of this type of complaints just as a social worker working with children. It angers me that no matter how academically qualified, passionate, and dedicated I am to my job, ridiculous charges can still be slung at me. I just hope that this changes quickly.